“A mutual respect for each other.”

According to Devonna Wood, Tom Erger, and Mike Pitzen, equal partners in Cabinet Studio, Inc., that’s the magic ingredient for their successful enterprise in renovating house interiors.

My successes. 




“A mutual respect for each other.”

According to Devonna Wood, Tom Erger, and Mike Pitzen, equal partners in Cabinet Studio, Inc., that’s the magic ingredient for their successful enterprise in renovating house interiors.

Adding determination, skill, relentless hard work, market sensitivity, and a bit of luck, they managed to build a successful business endeavor.

Their market edge? Cabinet Studio simultaneously designs and creates Nice Kitchen custom cabinets, employing a one-stop-shopping approach.

If you want a design that combines custom and off-the-shelf items—that’s no problem. Just visit their studio located on the near Northeast side of Cedar Rapids, and they'll do it all for and with you, without your having to drive from store to store.

And their prices? Cabinet Studio customers are amazed to find prices competitive with local discount home retailers. Because Cabinet Studio focuses on costs and local customer expectations, “custom” is competitive with the so-called bargain pre-fab items.

Their combined 45 years of experience means they can offer their customers unique skills. Two long-term designers, Devonna and Mike, work together with an experienced construction expert. Tom worked his way up the ranks from a finish carpenter to the overseer of large home construction projects.  Together, they play perfectly off each other's talents. (In the picture, left to right: Mike, Devonna, Tom)


“It all started because we wanted to work for ourselves and we had an idea about how to serve customers better,” says Tom. Mike and Devonna heartily agree.

During a nearly 10-year tenure as a project manager constructing large Cedar Rapids homes, Tom noticed that he spent a lot of time driving new owners to various stores all over town to select specific items for their interiors. “It was hectic and time-consuming. I knew there had to be a better way. “

In June of 2000, during a lull between projects, Mike and Tom got together and began to act on their instincts. “Once we got Devonna's buy-in, we were off and running. The timing was right,” says Mike Pitzen.

Cabinet Studio building Their new concept was to offer homeowners who are creating or redoing a kitchen—or an entire house—the convenience of getting a custom look and comprehensive service all in one place.

They offer an incredible array of options in their showroom for any home remodeling project. Following sensible and cohesive designs, the custom cabinets and/or architectural woodwork is built on-site, while off-the-shelf cabinets are ordered as desired.

Start-up wasn’t easy—or glamorous. “We operated out of a garage for three years,” advises Tom. “I personally made the cabinets.” 

That’s a far cry from where they are now. They reclaimed a 30,000-square-foot building at 700 16th Street NE from industrial decay. They refurbished the building into an elegant venue for their offices and showroom as well as for the several businesses and retail tenants who share the space.

Man woodworking

Secrets to Business Growth and Success

What distinguishes Cabinet Studio from its competitors and has enabled them to grow so rapidly? Quality. This team of professionals works very hard to provide not only convenience but impeccable design and workmanship.

That’s all part of their plan—setting high goals and building a reputation for high-quality results. Their continuous enthusiasm and personal involvement in every aspect of the process is a point of pride. For example, Devonna still often “hand-drafts” designs to get a better feel for the result. In an age of nearly exclusive computer-aided design, such attention to detail is remarkable. 

 “But, be careful what you wish for,” says Tom. With good fortune, he explains, comes unrelenting hard work. “Even after reaching this level, it is still hard work to maintain priorities, keep things moving and focus on what is important.” The Studio's owners have now assembled a team of 16 people.

The finest tribute to this enterprise is that in eighteen years they have never had to advertise seriously. “Our reputation speaks for itself. The vast majority of our business comes to us through referrals,” says Mike. Contractors in town know and respect Cabinet Studio and the people who own it.

Lessons and How SCORE Helps

Cabinet Studio admits to two major challenges......

Assortment of lights with unique glasswork The first lies in a common misperception. “People assume we’re expensive and we are not,” says Mike Pitzen. Perhaps the word “custom” communicated high costs.

When they wanted to do more modest projects and cater to a broader section of the community, this assumption had to be overcome. Meeting this challenge is a work in progress, as the team builds a larger customer base that helps them get the word out. (Pictured to right, Cabinet Studio does lighting too.)

The second challenge was the one that sent them to SCORE East Central Iowa—which assists businesses like Cabinet Studio at no cost.

Rapid business success can lead to disorganization, confusion, and being overwhelmed. It can be a bit scary. “When we called SCORE, they instantly brought general management and financial wisdom to bear on our business. They helped us to see the big picture and to visualize priorities,” Cabinet Studio's owners agree.

“SCORE Mentor Jean Kruse improved our understanding of the importance of good financial management and accounting and Counselor Frank Torrens helped us prioritize. They helped ease the anxiety and set us on the right path for the future.”

Cabinet Studio building window

Once on the Path...

Cabinet Studio, Inc., certainly seems ready for the future.

The partners are naturally collaborative, extraordinarily market-sensitive, and hard-working. By combining these qualities with a desire to provide a friendlier, value-added approach to interior design projects, they have created something vigorous, exciting, and new.

If you are to be one in a million and successful, this is all it takes.


VISIT Cabinet Studio, Inc.

Please take time to indulge by visiting the Cabinet Studio showroom at 700 16th Street NE in Cedar Rapids (see map below). See for yourself that “custom” does not necessarily mean more expensive anymore. It is eye-opening.

You may also visit them in the comfort of your home at www.cabinetstudioinc.com/

Map to Cabinet Studio building

Cabinet Studio